When punters ask Mitchell Bridge how to pour the perfect pint, he is now confident that he has the definitive answer.
At 19, the Nelson bartender is the youngest person ever to win the Stella Artois National Draught Masters competition.
“It was so unexpected,” says Mitchell. “I collapsed to the floor and actually cried.”
The competition, which sought to find the best pint puller in the country, took place at the Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland last Saturday – the same day as a big meet.
Mitchell and his competitors were projected onto the big screens for everyone at the races to see.
So, what is it that makes a champion draught pourer?
The competition requires each of the finalists to perform the nine-step pouring ritual. Each was judged on their precision, technique and presentation skills.
“It’s more than just pouring a beer,” says Mitchell.
“They look for your personality and extra bit of flair. Anyone can serve a customer but not everyone can give it that extra bit of personality that they can remember.”
Mitchell says he tries to create “memorable moments”.
“I did a ‘Nelson shuffle’ while I cleaned the glasses.”
Mitchell’s trip up to Auckland was all-inclusive. There were brewery tours, extravagant lunches of olives and octopus and, of course, free Stella Artois all weekend.
The final stage of the competition is the world championships which Mitchell suspects could be in Belgium – the home of Stella Artois.
“I’m terrified and ecstatic … I’m going to give it my all.”
The team at Smugglers Pub & Café, where Mitchell works, is all very proud of his achievements and wish him well in the world champs.
“I’m so proud of myself,” Mitchell says. “I can do anything I put my mind to.”